DETHRONING KING COAL
Unless the rich world intervenes the coal will continue to burn in dirty way and the surge in carbon
By ALY KHAN
July 22 - 28, 2002
The dreamers of cleaner energy, green peace movement and other save the future generation vocalists and activists have given the verdict for dethroning of King Coal( we call it Black Gold here) calling it as fuel from fossil and as the environmental enemy No 1.
We cant blame them as air pollution due to sooty coal boilers is badly affecting human health.
The way progress is being made in Pakistan in coal utilization seems we may keep the coal buried without ever energizing it and later branding as Environmental enemy no 1.
If we look at Pakistan most recent find of Thar coal with impressive figures of estimated 175 billion tons of reserves( 2700 million tons measured deposits, 9395 million tons indicated, 50,706 million tons inferred and 112705 million tons hypothetical deposits) our heart bleeds and one is tempted to ask why this black gold (king Coal) is being kept in the dark.
The Thar Coal is Lignite having moisture content of 46.77% removing this moisture and reusing it as water will remove draught from Thar possibly forever.
Experiment were carried out at Institute of Materials Sciences & Research, Pakistan Steel (which is now almost closed as the Principal and vice Principal of the institute took golden hand shake and the others were sent on LPR or opted for dismissal) by blending Thar coal with other coking coals but its suitability to be used as coking coal is not feasible . However its suitability in power generation is widely agreed upon specially low sulphur content about 1.16% and heating value of 5774 Btu/ib will help.
The Chinese offer to set up a power plant of 330 MW or German offer of utilization of Thar coal by converting it into gas and supplying it to Pakistan Steel plus converting moisture into potable water needs consideration on priority basis.
The other option available is sequestration, an innovative way of using fossil fuel without releasing carbon into the air. Sequestration offers "a fine stepping- stone to squeaky clean hydrogen energy". Once the energy trapped in coal is unleashed and its carbon sequestered, energy-laden hydrogen can be used in fuel cells, cars or home without any harmful emissions at all. With this dawning of the age of hydrogen there are promising signs, nearly every big car maker plans to have fuel-cell cars on the road. Power plants are going into market with this development.
Green groups are willing to accept sequestration as a bridge to a renewable-based hydrogen future. This approach will offer a realistic long term plan for tackling climate change.
President Bush has made positive noises about coal sequestration and fuel cells this will help the coal lobby.
WHAT IS TO BE DONE?
The combined coal wealth of Muslim countries would run into several hundred billion tons, Comstech which is responsible for technological development of Muslim countries can undertake the task of carrying out research in effective utilization of coals and pilot scale studies for possibility of using coal without releasing carbon in air i.e. through Sequestration. In Pakistan coal testing facilities are available at Pakistan Steel and structural analysis could be carried out at laboratories in Islamabad.
Turkey, Egypt, Iran etc have also capability to carry out advanced work in effective coal utilization and their involvement would be beneficial. Minister of Science & Technology can use his research background in making this project a Success.
RICH NATIONS TO COME FORWARD
Unless the rich world intervenes the coal will continue to burn in dirty way and the surge in carbon emissions will cast a dark shadow for future generations. Rich should be ready to pay for switch to carbon energy development by the under developed countries. Australia being among the world largest coal reserve and exporters can lead in providing necessary technical help beside Canada, Germany, Japan, USA etc.